Money Management

Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times

Person looking over paperwork


The UW-Extension has created a website to help families and individuals manage their personal finances. Developed by Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Financial Education professionals, it’s designed to help people make sound financial choices in tough times.

Topics include:

Talking with Family & Managing Stress

Creating a Budget

The Balancing Act: Cutting Expenses and Increasing Income

Keeping Up with Credit and Debt

Considering Foreclosure & Bankruptcy

More Resources

Cutting Back and Keeping Up — Whether it’s due to a drop in income, a big unexpected expense, or the cost of everyday living overtaking your paycheck, there are steps you can take to get a handle on your finances – and your financial stress. Read More (PDF) | Cutting Back & Keeping Up in Espanol (PDF)

Dealing with a Drop in Income — Sometimes a household’s income drops suddenly because of a job layoff, an illness or death, or a divorce. This document walks you through everything you need to know when times are tough and the bills keep coming after your income drops. Read More (PDF) Or listen to the following Drop in Income podcast:


Free Credit Report

This website walks you through the process of obtaining your free reports, reading them, and dealing with any errors. Click here to read a brief by the University of Wisconsin-Extension with more information about free credit reports.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA):

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify at thousands of sites across the country.  VITA and TCE sites can be found in some community centers, libraries, churches, shopping malls, and retirement homes. Most VITA sites are open from February 1 through April 15. To find the VITA or TCE site closest to you please call:

  • 1-800-829-1040 for VITA site locations,
  • 1-888-227-7669 for TCE site locations, or
  • call “211″ for local free tax sites.

You can find a listing of free tax assistance sites on the Department of Revenue website. This IRS link helps you find free tax sites based on the ZIP code you submit. This is not a comprehensive list, but includes some of the free tax sites available in the state.

UW Extension Self-Help Resources:

UW Extension has a number of financial education resources that may be used for self study including the following:

Organizing Your Financial Records
Taking Control of Your Spending
Tracking Your Spending
Using Power Payments to Pay off Debt Tax Credits for Limited Income Families Blog Managing Finances in Tough Times Blog
Wallet Tracker
Cutting Back & Keeping Up Fact Sheet
“Retirement Rules of Thumb”
Family Estate Planning In Wisconsin

Rent Smart Rent Smart is an education program designed to help renters acquire and keep decent housing.

Wisconsin Homeowner Preservation Education This curriculum seeks to help homeowners understand the benefits and responsibilities of owning and maintaining a home.